I have been reading Rebecca Burgess’ gorgeous book, Harvesting Color, which had me thinking about how to create a tannin solution. The local solution for her is to gather acorns. That might be possible for me in autumn, too. There are some avenues of oaks in my city, and they have tiny newly formed acorns right now. But it seems to me that eucalypt bark would be a promising source in my own region. I thought it seemed logical to collect bark from a species that hadn’t shown a lot of dye potential (I’m trying for mordant, not dye). So I stopped outside the royal showgrounds where this huge E. Claodocalyx (Sugar Gum) had shed its bark recently. We were having unseasonably cool weather as this dull photograph shows.
I picked up a bag full of bark and headed home to let it steep in rainwater. This will be an opportunity to consider the dye potential of the bark as well as try it as a source of tannins. There are many of these trees around my area and this is a truly huge tree when full grown, which sheds its bark once a year, so if this is a good source of dye, I will have access to a lot of it! Here is how it looked on 15 December:
And two days later:
…so I put a metre of cotton cloth into it, which immediately turned golden yellow:
I left the pot in a sunny spot. The temperatures have ranged from mid-twenties celcius to 40C. By 1 January, the pot was darker still, with the liquid seeming a ruby red shade.
And here is the cotton I immersed in it so many days ago after drying.
Needless to say, I am now planning to dye wool in my bark liquor and see what happens…